I'm definitely not one to think that stuff can make you happy but I do think there were a few things that made this trip go smoother and so I thought I'd throw out a few suggestions.
I realize that this shows how anal I can be. But keep in mind that the last trip we made to DW, I took our 18 month old straight from the hospital where she had been under 18 hours of observation with fluids for a stomach virus which the doctor assured me would "make her as good as new" and totally ready for DW. HE LIED!! But anyway, it was so rushed that I forgot her shoes and had to stop and buy shoes on the way there. And not that taking a stomach virus along to DW with you isn't stressful enough, it was even more stressful because I was in no way prepared for that trip. But more on that later. For the record, no one is paying me to advertise these items. I just really like them. But, where I could find it, I included a link to Amazon.
Our electric cooler
The rooms at the Value resorts do not include refrigerators. You can have one brought to your room to use for $10 a day. Or, you can buy one of these for around $100 and it'll pay for itself in just a couple of trips. Adam's mom got us this for a gift several years ago. It made many youth ministry trips and has served to stock drinks in our spare bedroom when we've had guests. It has been used A LOT and is still working as well as it did when we got it. Plus, it also has an adapter that plugs in in the car so you can go ahead and stock it and keep stuff cold on your way there.
*A Backpack for me-- Disney World is one of the few amusment parks that will allow you to bring food into the park. They will even allow you to bring in a soft sided cooler (I didn't go through that trouble since there are plenty of places that the meal plan can be used inside the park). However, I took a backpack with things we might need in it, including: water bottles, camera, some high protein snacks in it, a first aid kit, pull ups and wipes, hand sanitizer, a dollar umbrella from the Dollar tree for each of us and etc.
These handy Eddie Bauer backpacks that I found at Target for 13.99
I know what you're thinking.. I too once turned my nose up at the the thought of these things and remarked that I would never put my children on a leesh like an animal. But that was before I actually had children and knew that they could actually act like animals. And as a man said to me as he walked by and saw my children enjoying their freedom and me, enjoying their security, "Those things are totally kosher now"! Plus, these have the added bonus of the marker board and markers so, on the car rides and the rides on the trolley, they had a built in activity. I filled these with Disney coloring books and crayons and sticker books along with their own personal booklight and tied them on the car seats in front of them for the ride there and it kept them entertained for several hours of the trip. I even got a very impressed exclamation from Emma, "Mom, you're are so totally prepared"! And, it kept our van all tidy and neat which makes for a much better trip for me!
And speaking of crayons.. I searched high and low for this thing... I knew that someone had to have had the idea before me and I finally found the 8 in 1 crayon made by Alex at Learning Express.
Thank you Learning Express for saving me the headache of searching the car for crayons. Definitely a worth while investment at $2.99 a piece.
These neat water bottles with filters by New Wave Enviromental
I got six of these, and wrote our names on them. This way, we didn't have to haul a bunch of bottled water and, we could carry the bottles empty until we needed a drink. Then we would fill them up anywhere we wanted. Plus, they are made out of corn and are biodegradable.
I also went to the Dollar Tree and stocked up on glow sticks and necklaces and cotton candy. That way, when they asked for those things in the park, I could pull them out of my backpack and save myself about ten bucks. I also took our own princess dresses and equipment to do do fancy hairstyles because the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique is expensive and takes a lot of time.
Since we're already talking about the things that I took on the trip that were helpful, I'll go ahead and include the things that I was wishing I had with me but didn't. Really, there are only a couple but if I ever go again, I will be investing in these two items:
The Combi Flare Stroller
I took our sit and stand stroller. And while it was nice to have a place for both of them to sit, I don't think they both ended up in it at the same time more than twice. I think a big stroller would be necessary if you have more than one child that isn't walking but, I think it would have been a lot less work for us to have a single, compact, lightweight stroller. Because, though I love my sit n' stand and it fits just fine in my van, it was pretty big to be getting on and off Disney World's transportation. And we were waiting for the trolly one night and I saw a guy walk up with this stroller, take a baby out of it, hold the baby in one arm, fold the stroller in the other and then throw the strap over his shoulder in all of about three seconds.. I don't think I've ever been so envious in my life.. If I had known that this thing existed, it would have been my travel system with the girls. The stroller weighs 11.5 lbs. But will hold up to 55 lbs. It has a longer handle than you normally find on a compact stroller. It folds super small and has a strap to hang it on your shoulder. And even with being so compact, it still works with an infant carrier.
And last but not least:
The Stroll'r Swivel'r
Our friends Susan and Tony and their two kids live in Lakeland Florida. They met us for a day in the Magic Kingdom. Susan had this handy little hook on her stroller and it held their backpack totally keeping it out of the way but making it very accessible when she needed it. I was a little aggrevated at myself on this one because it seemed like something so easy and inexpensive that I totally missed. I will definitely be investing in one of these soon.
I have one more planning post to make about a couple of things I would do differently. Please e-mail me with any questions that I might be able to help with. I love this stuff and would totally get a job planning these trips if I could figure out how to do that from home.